A stunning performance from the GAIN Irish U16 (Pony) Show Jumping team today (Friday) has seen them take the Gold medal at the 2019 European Championships at Strzegom in Poland following a dramatic jump-off against Britain.
The Irish team of Francis Derwin (Cul Ban Mistress), Niamh McEvoy (Ardfry Skye), John McEntee (Little Smithe) Tom Wachman (Ocean Des As), and Max Wachman (Cuffesgrange Cavalidam (ISH), finished on a three round total of just 4 faults following a mammoth competition on the final day which lasted for over six hours.
Ireland started the morning in fourth place – carrying forward just the four faults picked up in Thursday’s opening competition. All four Irish riders jumped clear in the first round of the team final this morning and that moved Ireland into bronze medal position with one round remaining. Ireland finished the second round of the team final again with a zero score, meaning they would finish on just four faults. France, who had been in a share of the lead with Britain, picked up 12 faults in the final round to finish level with Germany in equal third, while one fence down for Britain meant they would have to jump-off against Ireland for the gold.
All four members of each team went forward to the deciding jump-off’s and the third place decider saw France take the bronze leaving Germany just outside the medal places in fourth. The tension mounted as the gold medal decider produced one of the most exciting jump-off’s in recent memory. At the finish, both teams finished on a zero score meaning the combined times would decide the winner. Ireland dramatically claimed the gold when their time was just under two seconds faster than Britain who would take silver.
A delighted Irish team manager Gary Marshall pointed out that the incredible Irish team spirit was key to his team’s success:
“It’s unbelievable, i’m just so proud of them all. I said to them at the start of the day that we just needed to keep jumping clear rounds. I have to say the team spirit we had here was just incredible, everybody was rooting for each other and you don’t win medals without that. I want to thank everyone involved that made this happen. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes from parents, coaches and everyone working at Horse Sport Ireland. Everyone played their part and it was a real team effort and a special mention for the supporters we had out here and all the messages of support from people back home.”
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy added:
“Huge to the Irish team, their parents and team manager Gary Marshall on an exceptional result to take home another medal for Ireland at a major championships. They showed incredible composure to jump clear in all three rounds on the final day and to come out on top after a thrilling jump-off. This comes on the back of a European team bronze and individual gold for Ireland at U18 (Junior) level earlier this year and shows the level of talent and coaching we have in Ireland is exceptional. I wish all our Show Jumping, Eventing and Dressage riders the best of luck in the remaining competitions at the U16 European Championships over the rest of the weekend.”
Max Wachman is among a group of four riders who head into Sunday’s individual final on a zero score, while Niam McEvoy and Tom Wachman are just outside the medal places on four faults.
Meanwhile the Irish U16 Eventing team of Brian Kuehnle, Grace Tyrrell, Alex Connors and Tiggy Hancock, managed by Becky Cullen, are in fourth place after the Dressage phase heading into Saturday’s Cross Country at the Eventing Europeans which are also taking place in Strzegom.